We all know and love Spotify as a music streaming service, but have you ever considered Spotify a form of social media? Probably not. We define social media as any platform facilitating the creation and sharing of information, ideas and interests, which summarises Spotify. The only difference? Music forms the centre of the experience.
But what is it that makes Spotify a social media?
Like most social media platforms, Spotify requires its users to have a personal account, whether that be ad-supported or paid. Users are able to add a profile picture, follow friends, family and artists. All the usual things you’d expect from a social platform.
Compare this to Instagram, where the platform’s users are able to view who their friends are following, the content they’re viewing shared via stories and the posts they’ve created. In parallel, Spotify’s users can view the music their friends are listening to, the playlists they’ve created and music shared by their favourite artists.
A key social aspect of Spotify is the ability to follow and connect with other users, artists, and bands. For artists, Spotify offers a dedicated social platform on which to build a relationship with their listeners. Not only are users able to view and listen to the artist’s discography, but receive updates on new releases and access behind-the-scenes content.
For listeners, Spotify offers the opportunity to connect through a love of music. Spotify’s collaborative playlists enables users to partake in a shared music experience, creating playlists together via their respective accounts. To take this a step further, Spotify introduced Blend, an algorithm driven feature combining the music taste of two users to create a shared playlist reflecting their collective musical preferences. This was designed to make collaboration on the platform more engaging and interactive, updated daily based on the listener’s streaming habits.
Associate Designer at Spotify, Rosie Maharjan highlights the strength of this feature as a relationship-building tool, noting that ‘Blend is a simple way to show someone you’re thinking about them. It’s small but so thoughtful and offers an avenue to get to know new friends or catch up with old ones.’
Drawing a parallel to Instagram once more, in a similar manner to which the photo sharing platform allows users to stay up to date with the day-to-day lives of friends and family, Blend can ‘effortlessly connect’ users, as the automatically updating playlists allows users to see what their friends are currently listening to.
Personalisation forms a central component of Spotify’s marketing strategy. The ‘Discover Weekly’ feature creates personalised playlists for users based on their listening habits, enabling the discovery of new artists and genres. Why is this effective? According to McKinsey’s Next in Personalization report, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions. What’s more, the Twilio 2023 State of Personalisation report, notes that 56% of consumers state they will become repeat buyers after a personalised experience. However, Spotify’s most notable demonstration of innovative personalisation has to be Spotify Wrapped, showcasing users their musical year in review.
Spotify Wrapped offers users a detailed overview of their most-streamed songs, genres and the total amount of time spent listening to music on the platform, as well as a playlist of their top one hundred songs. Wrapped allows users to showcase their unique music preferences whilst discovering more about themselves, harnessing the natural human curiosity to learn more about oneself. The emotional connection triggered when enabling users to reminisce on their listening habits from the past year not only makes users feel valued but creates an attachment to the platform.
Though, the key component of Wrapped’s success is its shareability. Spotify provides users with story graphics, enabling them to easily share their Wrapped summaries on other social platforms like Instagram and Facebook, turning the feature into a viral marketing tool. According to Sprout Social, in 2021 the volume of tweets about Spotify Wrapped increased by 461%. The virality of the campaign continued to grow last year with a 15% increase in total volume, 17% increase in total engagements and 22% increase in unique authors.
Interestingly, 50% of companies claim to find gathering accurate data for personalisation challenging. However, Spotify circumvents this problem as the platform’s personalisation is formed around data driven insights collected from user behaviour and actions on the platform, making the strategy even more effective. Not only does the campaign attract new users but encourages retention and fosters brand loyalty. In creating memorable and personalised experiences year-on-year, users are encouraged to remain on the platform to continue their music discovery journey.
What truly sets the platform apart from other forms of social media is that music remains at its core. While other platforms may have music as a feature, it’s not the primary focus. Spotify will always remain a music streaming service first and foremost, however the social features foster a sense of community and keep users engaged on the platform beyond a means to stream music.
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